Unisphere.. yay !! what about Celerra Manager and Advanced Manager on the NX4 ?

Right, so EMC have got rid of Basic and advanced editions of Celerra Manager and replaced them Unisphere. Fantastic ! no more questions about what the difference is between the basic and advanced edition of Celerra Manager !!  Naaay..    Interest has peaked on the Celerra NX4; EMC’s little Unified storage box must be hitting a sweet spot as we’re getting lots of requests..  and this box still runs Celerra Manager.

So, What do you need to know about Celerra manager when comparing the two editions.

The Advanced Edition gives you the ability to manage multiple Celerra’s – So if replicating two of Celerra’s, I would strongly suggest the Advanced Edition.

The Advanced Edition gives you more control of Provisioning Disk – The Basic edition will automate management of how disks are carved up in order to present file systems and shares out to the network. I nice feature for the IT manager with not enough time on his hands to do this. But if you want to carve up Meta’s, volumes and disks in a specific way to meet specific performance requirements, then you need the advanced edition to circumnavigate the Automated volume manager.

The advanced edition has a inbuilt migration tool called CDMS (Celerra Data Migration Service) – I would advise that tool is reserved for only those who are well versed in Celerra and migrations. But effectivly it offers migration capability for file data to Celerra with minimal down time. If you are going to use this, make sure you know what you’re doing or engage an EMC partner.

Those are the important bits you need to know..     any further questions…    ask your EMC Partner


Interestingevan on Theregister.co.uk

A few weeks ago Imyself and a few others were asked by Chris Mellor at the register to provide my thoughts around whether Replication could replace backup. Take a look at the below link to see the article :

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/08/15/replication_or_backup/


Adding Value, above and beyond shifting tin.

So in the last 3 weeks I’ve spent time un cork with a number of tier 1 VMWare, Cisco and EMC Partners, aswell as Subject matter experts from the 3 vendors themselves; I’ve also just come back from Arizona after course around Cisco’s UCS B Series offering and Nexus piece.

The Infrastructure offerings from VMware, Cisco, EMC are all very impressive; there are integration points between the 3 vendors which go beyond just marketing fud. Cisco have their Nexus 1000v which extends the network access layer into the virtual server environment rather than simply at the hypervisor OS itself, EMC offer direct integration and management capability of their systems from VMWare’s Management suite by making optimal use of the various Vstorage API’s, EMC/VMWare’s Ionix portfolio integrates with both management of the 3 vendor offerings, but also giving application discovery capability visible from VCenter and granular trending and reporting cababilities; even covering change control for those lucky folks who must be ITIL compliant.

So that’s the whole package..   job done..     NAY !!.   In my humble opinion, the businesses that really excel are those organisations that can offer all of this, but can also wear a development and integration hat. Dealing with the presentation layer as to how all of this is managed, provisioned and tweaked to meet business needs, not just IT infrastructure needs. IT is moving more and more towards a self service model, to where within the constraints of  what a business or provider allows; a user/customer/business can spin up instances of applications/servers/resource/storage on the fly and the underlying infrastructure simply goes and does.   

From a Service provider instance this might be a virtual machine or computing resource thats spun up, from an internal business perspective it may be a complete virtual environment that’s spun up for dev purposes or demonstration purposes, It may simply be using something like XML to extend on the management capabilities of  the native vendor tools (much like BMC Bladelogic have with Cisco UCS) or simply making the management tools more personal and relevant to an organisation.

Kaavo is one company which is working on management of public and private cloud deployments

The below video is a very good example of someone that has taken the open XML framework and tuned an IT deployment specifically to an organisations business needs

So in summary, selling tin and selling licences will make you money, BUT !! consultancy, development and services demonstrate more value, a deeper fundamental understanding of how business needs map to IT requirements and are more margin rich.


VBlock 0 : Want a Vblock ? Don’t need to support 1000’s of Virtual machines though ?

So, with all the hype of Vblock and VCE, we have marveled at the integration between the 3 vendors of VCE and slick positioning of vBlock…     but..   what if a vBlock 1 or 2 is going to break the bank and you need something scaled down a touch, but with the benefits of single support across the 3 vendor components ?

Now EMC have released the VBlock 0, things are looking more compelling for aspirations to the private cloud, who may not want to invest in vBlock 1 or 2 and geared to support thousands of Virtual Machines.

In the below video, Scott Lowe and Mike Foley from the VCE team  talk through what the vBlock 0 consists of for the techhead.co.uk site

The reference architecture for vBlock 0 can be found here.


VBlock single support offering

So I’ve just come back from a week over at EMC in Cork  and have the privilege of seeing the flashy lights of a Vblock and speaking with the Various VCE subject matter experts. So where do I start ?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Vblock or what the VCE (VMware, Cisco, EMC) coalition is all about you can go to www.vcecoalition.com or watch the below vid from the VCE guys for the polished positioning :

This post is more for those of you who are familiar with the VCE offerings. I shall start with the single support element of the Vblock which has been a subject of some debate since, as there was some ambiguity around what acadia does and where it operates…   so, lets start with forgetting about Acadia. That sorts that 🙂 its all about the SST (Seamless support Team). The SST is a dedicated vBlock support team based in Cork (amongst other places), which consists of VMWare, Cisco and EMC qualified staff, all working under one roof, they are responsible for qualifying a vblock, supporting customer implementations of vBlock and more importantly for those who qualify as VCE partners, the SST will also support in the pre-sales element of vBlock and in qualifying the opportunity.

Slide from VCE around the SST

More information on VBlock support can be found here

Can I add a xxxxx to my vBlock ?

No !..   well not without an official exception from the SST anyway and to be fair, aside from maybe adjusting quantities of disks/blades/memory, the architecture for a vBlock shouldn’t need to be changed. For the most part, if your goal if to move toward the virtualised Datacenter then the vBlock should meet that requirement with the validated architecture. Bear in mind the vBlock is designed to sit in a Datacenter environment, effectively at the access layer and  uplink into an existing network core/aggregation layer (which is where you would provide services such as firewall/VPN termination/Layer 3 routing, etc.. ) and these elements do not fall under the remit of the seamless support team. The SST only look after the vBlock component(s), other components aside from the vBlock will have to fall under the support of their native vendors.

Why can’t we just add everything VMWare/Cisco/EMC which we have to the same support contract ?!

One of the reasons the SST is so effective is that they have a number of vBlocks within their support centers which all support personnel have access to, this means that they can re-create any issue which a customer may log and massively increase the speed to resolution. This wouldn’t be possible if they didn’t police what a supported vBlock implementation is, then it would make life very difficult in this issue staging and resolution. Also, yes the vBlock is an impressive of flashing lights and cool tech, but aim of a pre-validated architecture is that this enables the customer conversations to be geared more toward meeting business requirements than technical one, as the technical validation is already done.  All the validated reference architectures are available at http://www.vcecoalition.com/solutions.htm

However, if it is felt that a component is absolutely required the an exception can be applied for and approved at the discretion of the SST. But don’t go asking to add a HP server or juniper switch… not gonna happen 😉

Bear in mind that it is early doors and although it may appear to be restrictive having to abide by the validated architectures and use cases,but  it is early days and more and more validated architectures and options to the vblocks are in the process of going through the required testing to ensure that they are truly technically validated and can be supported by the SST.

I will post more on the positioning and technology of vBlock in due course.    for now..   I gotta eat.


Adminstration of Clariion with VMWare… Getting easier

So, EMC released the NFS plugin for VMWare to support storage administration tasks on Celerra from the VI Client a while back, which was very cool and had some very impressive features..    but what about the Traditional SAN man ?! 

Well, yesterday EMC announced a VMWare plugin for Clariion.. 

Product Overview

The EMC CLARiiON Plug-in for VMware simplifies storage administration between the VMware Virtual Center Server and CLARiiON storage systems. It offers end-to-end management of storage related tasks including provisioning of datastores, provisioning of raw device mapping (RDM) devices, and array-based virtual machine replication.

New Feature Summary 

The EMC CLARiiON Plug-in for VMware allows you to perform the following specific tasks directly from the VMware vSphere client:

  • You can provision new datastores (VMFS volumes) or raw device mapping (RDM) volumes
  • Delete existing datastores backed by CLARiiON CX4 storage
  • Creation of virtual machine replicas using array-based replication services
  • The plug-in also gives you the option to publish the replicated virtual machines to a View Manager.

Notes

·       EMC CLARiiON Plug-in for VMware is customer-installable.

·       EMC CLARiiON Plug-in for VMware requires CX4 storage systems running Release 29 FLARE.

 Thats all I have at the minute, but will be picking the brain of the EMC bods as I go to get some more info.

Very usefull feature though !!


Iomega ? Consumer only ?.. pfft, Me thinks not

It would appear that the aquisition of Iomega by EMC is paying is dividends by way of cool tech being added to the Iomega Range.  So, as you may be aware Iomega released their new IX12 NAS box earlier this month (see previous post for more info) , which has many of the gubbins of “proper” NAS. What could this Sub £10k little box have that pips EMC and Netapps big enterprise boxes to the post ?  It has an Avamar agent installed in the NAS device !!…    Granted,  if you don’t know what avamar is, that previous statement may have been something of an anti-climax…   Let me elaborate:

  • Typically what type of data contain the most commonalilty?
  • Typically which type of data consumes the most storage ?
  • Which type of data takes the longest time to backup ?

The answer to the question my pedigree chums.. is file data (in most cases, not all..  granted).  So,  Company X (The commercial division of the Xmen..  obviously), has a head office in London and a number of regional small branch offices dotted around the country. Each one of these offices is serving up user home directories and network drives from said Iomega IX12 (lets say 4TB per office)..   When it comes to backing those sites up; do they back it all up to tape or disk locally, taking up time and budget on a per site basis for their backups ? Do they back it all up to disk, replicate data to a central site for DR and try and shove how ever many terrabytes down a 100MB link wondering why it takes sooo long ?   nay..  After a the first full backup they only backup the block level changes over the link to their central site , allowing them to negate the requirement to backup to disk locally on their smaller regional offices..     bearing in mind that typically the daily rate of change on unstructured data is less than a percent..  nightly backups can be done quick sharp and are treated as full backups when it comes to restore, so you don’t have to run through all your incremental backups to ensure you’re up to date.

Not a bad bit of tin if you ask me..


Got Email Xtender ? Want SourceOne ? How do I move my mails ?

EMC released SourceOne some time ago as a replacement for Email Xtender and took a view to a co-existence model for existing Mail Xtender estates. What does this mean ? It means the email extender archive stays in place and SourceOne simply reads from that archive for searching and shortcut resolution… Grand !!  but that means you still need to keep EX running until retention runs its course on its archived mails. So..   EMC in conjunction with a company called Transvault have now developed a tool to actually migrate mails from EX to SourceOne.. much better !

It’s a bit new, so you won’t see it just yet. But ultimately it will be a service delivered by EMC only.

Watch this space anywho..    more on the way.

Transvault also offer mail archive migration services for a number of other Mail Archive products. So if you have an archive solution and you don’t like it..   don’t just lump it,  there are ways and means..


Dedupe your file data !! save our hard drives !!

Just a little video I put together showing file server consolidation (in a blue peter here’s one I made earlier style). 2 minutes, nothing too fancy..   just a bit of fun.  

(best watched in full screen)

I do hope geek is the new chic …    because if not…   I feel dirty


Iomega/EMC’s new lovechild

Iomega first started life selling removable storage. The world marvelled at the might of the 200MB Zip drive, brought gifts of  gold , frankincense and murr as offerings to the almighty Jazz drive and sacrificed livestock in awe of the the Ditto Drive  (I exagerate..  but bear with me, I’m setting the scene). Then, as removable storage media started to give way to internet and USB drives became the standard for removable storage..  we started to see the likes of the zip and jazz drive fade away.

So..  out with the old, in with the new ? No..  Now Iomega have a massive play in the consumer space for External Hard drives and networked storage. The upper end of the networked storage range was the IX4 (now on its second generation). A nice tidy box which would hold up to 8TB of RAW capacity and fit well in a remote office environment, home office, even as a media server for your movies and music (all legitimately obtained of course). They even did a rackmount NAS device..  Brilliant !!

But what if you need a little more grunt… a bit more redundancy, scalability.. something more feature rich. Iomega/EMC are on the verge of releasing the IX12. This box fits nice and snug between the IX4-200R and EMC’s Celerra NX4; it supports up to 24TB of RAW capacity, supports all the RAID types you’d ever want to use and has 4 Gigabit ports which can support up to 256 iSCSI initiators (servers) or 256 LUN’s for block level access. All the other usual protocols still apply in the oh so familiar forms of CIFS, NFS, FTP, HTTP, etc and there are even a few nice bells and whistles such as port aggregation, DFS, array based replication, WebDav Support for online collaboration and it also sports drive spin down (very cool if its being used for a backup to disk or archive target). 

The IX12 has also been certified by a number of other vendors; it is obviously certified and on VMwares Hardware compatibility List for shared storage (also supported by a number of other virtualization vendors). Microsoft have verified that it will support Exchange 2010 Mailstores for environments of up to 250 users.

Its being stated by Iomega that these boxes are sitting in at between $5,000 and $10,000 list,  so will help EMC break even further into the lower SMB market. Personally, I think this box will play really well in spaces such as remote office,  graphic design organisations, departmental dedicated storage, backup to disk targets (admittedly would be more compelling if it supported NDMP, but we’ll leave that to the big boys), archive storage for the likes of EMC’s SourceOne, EV, Commvault, etc…

I’ll put together a more clear and concise post after the announcements to come, but I think Iomega could be onto a winner on this one..